Our Team

DFS Team

Fernando Maldonado – Digital Finance Team Lead  

Fernando leads the Digital Finance team at USAID. Prior to joining USAID, Fernando managed and provided technical assistance to a number of USAID funded economic growth, agricultural value chain strengthening, food security, and youth livelihood development programs around the globe. Fernando holds a Master of Arts degree in International Commerce and Policy, and a Bachelor of Arts in Government and International Politics with a minor in Economics from George Mason University.  Twitter: @FHMaldonado

Paul Nelson - Digital Finance Advisor

​Paul Nelson provides technical expertise to the team's market engagement portfolio. In addition to providing technical assistance on a range of projects and liaising with partners, he developed the Digital Finance Handbook, a core resource for USAID staff engaging on the issue. Before joining USAID, Paul worked intensively on community banking and entrepreneurship as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua and co-founded a start-up and blog tied to architecture. A licensed attorney, he focused on entrepreneurship (e.g., M&A) and regulatory law at the University of Wisconsin Law School. 

Kwasi Donkor – Senior Advisor, Policy

Kwasi Donkor leads the Digital Finance team’s Market Engagement work, focusing specifically on opportunities to mainstream the use of digital financial services in priority country markets and working with partners and other U.S. government agencies to stand up key market policy readiness infrastructure. Prior to joining USAID, Kwasi oversaw Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Worker program in Kampala after having driven Millcom’s mobile money offering Tigo Cash’s specialized sales and channel management strategy. He received his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Joseph Wharton Fellow.

Ankunda Kariisa – AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow  

Ankunda Kariisa is AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow leading the Digital Finance team's monitoring, evaluation and learning efforts.  Ankunda also plays a key role supporting the Digital Finance team's sector integration work, with a specific focus on global health.  Prior to joining  USAID, Ankunda was a post-doctoral researcher in Microbiology at the University of Washington in Seattle where she worked on antibiotic resistance.  She obtained a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from University of North Carolina (UNC-CH) in Chapel Hill, studying cholera, and a Bachelor of Science in Physiology with a minor in Pharmacology and Therapeutics from McGill University.

 Abigail Manz - Knowledge and Insights Advisor  

Abigail Manz plays a key role in accelerating the Digital Financial team’s vision through the management and sharing of key learnings and communications across the DFS community. Prior to joining the DFS team, Abigail managed the coordination of the Ebola Recovery portfolio at the U.S. Global Development Lab, providing oversight across initiatives, which focus on the use of science, technology, innovation and partnerships to improve governance, health information systems, and connectivity in the post-Ebola West Africa Region. Prior to joining the Agency, Abigail worked with entrepreneurs and innovators at the United Nations Foundation, where she supported a mobile health grant initiative geared toward improving maternal and child health through mobile technology. Abigail earned her B.A. in Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University, and is currently preparing for business school.


Field Based DFS Advisors

Olu Olutola – ICT Advisor  

Olu Olutola is the Informational Communication Technology (ICT) Advisor for the Lab-led connectivity and financial inclusion projects in Liberia. As the financial inclusion advisor, Olu supports the Central Bank of Liberia on policies and regulations that bridge the financial divide and also supports the government led digital payments (G2P) using mobile money which includes activities from MMSP and Strategic Impact Advisors on Liquidity and Agent Management. Olu is an ICT generalist with over 14 years experience in multiple industry settings and has a strong background in management consulting on projects ranging from IT strategy formulation to business transformation for clients in the private and public sectors of various industries. Olu holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer and Software Engineering and a Master's of Business Administration in Information Systems. He is also a certified Project Management Professional.

Mukesh Sadana – Financial Inclusion and Digital Development Specialist  

Mukesh Sadana serves as the Financial Inclusion and Digital Development Specialist within the USAID/India Mission and manages a large project that aims to increase the use of digital payments among low-income populations and small merchants, in addition to supporting fintech startups with unique business models and identifying and integrating digital technologies into other development projects. Mukesh brings over 17 years of experience in rural development and has worked to support government agencies, central banks, the private sector, and service providers in numerous countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malawi, and Papua New Guinea. He holds a post graduate diploma from the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) in India. 

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